An art show with heart

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Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:00 am

The weather was cold, but the hearts of everyone in the Nihsens' home Sunday were certainly warm.

Clara Nihsen, a second-grader at Blumfield Elementary, was hosting an art show out of her family's home in the Ralston area. The annual Clara Cares event was not deterred by the season's first significant snowfall; to the contrary, the home was filled with children and adults, eating snacks, listening to a short concert, and perusing the art.

Clara Cares has been part of the community since 2011, when the then five-year-old Clara decided she wanted to put on an art show. Clara's nanny was an artist, so she was able to paint on canvases and have her own private art lessons nearly every day.

“At first, the plan was to invite just her family to view her paintings,” Clara's mother, Christina, said. “But then we asked Clara what she wanted to do with the paintings. Clara thought about it over dinner and finally said, 'I want to sell them!'”

Clara's parents weren't sure at first who would want to buy her paintings, as much as they loved them. But then the second half of Clara Cares came together: the event would be for charity.

“We asked her what she'd do with all the money, and her first statement was 'Buy stuff!'” her mom said. “Through further questions and conversation, Clara eventually said, 'I think I would like to give the money to other kids.'”

For the first two years, 2011 and 2012, the show's proceeds benefitted Angels Among Us, as well as raising food donations for local food pantries as admission to the show. This year, however, the money raised will go to a source closer to home.

“One of our family friends has brain cancer and is leaving for Houston tomorrow to get treatment,” Christina said. “Our goal this year is to raise $800 for them to help with their bills.”

This year's show featured 15 artists, including Clara and her brother, Tucker; Mallory and Grady Kozeny; Caden and Gabie Fuqua; Chloe Germain; Ashtan Erspamer; Cali and Makena Petersen; and Noah, Clare, Lily, Max and Eleni Spangler. (Eleni is Clara's nanny.)

In addition to the paintings for sale, free-will donations were also accepted. Items from the Weathered and Worn Store and Bill and Maureen McPherson were up for raffle, and Sign It created “Clara Cares” bumper stickers, which were sold for $4.

Several of James McMann's music students, including Clara, also performed a concert near the end of the evening.

“It's fun because it's helping people and I get to raise money,” Clara said.

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